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George Washington High School marching band members (right to left) Abby Reynolds, Ben Campbell, Casey White, Luke Waugh, Charlie Long and Maddie Johnson practice on the school’s baseball field during band camp in August.

The year 2020 has brought a lot of new challenges and experiences for everyone, including new layouts for extracurricular activities.

The marching band season is looking extremely different. The new rules set in place by the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission (WVSSAC), allow extracurricular groups to practice for three hours and in small pods. The “traditional” band camp was canceled.

“We didn’t get to have a full-out pre-band and actual band camp, which is sad because weeklong band camp is really fun,” said Kylie Stewart, a 15-year-old sophomore at George Washington High School.

Traditionally, the George Washington band is able to spend the week at Cedar Lakes, perfecting the show and getting to know each other on a more personal level.

“I still think it’s fun, or at least I’m still having fun,” Stewart said. “It just is lousy because we can’t go full-out and do all of the fun stuff we’ve been doing the past couple of years.”

Even though practice is different, many students are just glad to have the opportunity to participate in the activities they love doing.

“Band has changed drastically due to this virus,” said 17-year-old senior Charlie Long. “While I am disappointed with how things have turned out, I’m glad I still get to live out my senior year with some resemblance of normalcy. Practices are much shorter and we are all masked, but I think the band has never felt closer because even though there are no competitions this year, we do what we do because we love it.”

Other band programs are also experiencing an altered marching band season. Capital High School’s band is practicing for two-and-a-half hours twice a week. Due to the different types of precautions in places, there is a new “normal” when practicing.

“We practice outside and maintain social distancing which makes it really hard to work on music, said Zoe McClanahan, a 16-year-old senior at Capital. “I’m really bummed that we cannot have proper band camp or longer rehearsals with maximum attendance, but I’m glad we still have something. An altered season is better than no season.”

It has definitely started off being a unique year for students in all extracurricular activities with many events already canceled, including the Kanawha Valley Majorette Festival. Band programs are waiting to hear if they will even be able to perform a field show. We know that the upcoming school year is going to present many new challenges and difficulties, and it is important to keep a positive mindset about the future.